Social Media, the Classroom and the First Amendment

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The First Amendment in a Digital Age

Social Media, the Classroom and the First Amendment, written by Melissa Wantz, and published by the First Amendment Center and Knight Foundation, takes a fresh look at how America’s schools can enhance learning through the use of emerging and interactive media.

This guide is designed to give teachers the tools and ideas they need to engage students using social media and existing curricula. The guide was inspired by the recent Knight Foundation study “Future of the First Amendment 2011” written by Dr. Kenneth Dautrich.

The Knight study – based on a survey of 12,090 high school students and 900 high school teachers — indicates that students who are most active in social media also have the best sense of First Amendment principles. That suggests that Twitter, Facebook and other social media can play an important supplemental role in the classroom.

We are indebted to Knight Foundation for its support and the funding of this teachers guide. Knight Foundation, along with the First Amendment Center, Newseum, American Society of News Editors and McCormick Foundation are also the core founders of 1 for All, an unprecedented national campaign on behalf of the First Amendment (http://1forAll.us).

1 for All is the collaborative effort of educators, artists, journalists, lawyers, librarians and many more who believe that the American public would benefit from a greater understanding of the First Amendment and the need to protect all voices, views and faiths.

The campaign is defined by these guiding principles:

 1 for All is nonpartisan. At a time of deep political polarization, we choose not to take sides. In fact, a shared commitment to freedom of speech, press and faith should unify this nation.

 It’s all about education. America’s teachers would like to do a better job of teaching about the First Amendment, but they often lack the resources they need. 1 for All provides educational materials, course content and study guides for teachers of grades 1 through 12. In addition, 1 for All sponsors campus festivals celebrating and exploring the First Amendment freedoms.

 1 for All is interactive. There’s no point in celebrating free expression without encouraging some of it. Students and others are encouraged in a variety of public competitions to submit photos, videos, songs and stories that reflect the value of freedom in America.

 The focus is on all five freedoms: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. America’s news media are quick to defend freedom of the press, and churches.